Giving learners vital experience
GETTING private practice while learning to drive plays an important role in gaining vital experience behind the wheel before taking the driving test.
Before you offer to take someone out make sure you have the relevant information. This week’s tips give advice to all those willing to giving the learner additional driving experience from IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman.
Firstly let’s get the legal bits out of the way - You must be at least 21 years old. You must have held a full driving licence for at least three years, your licence must be for the same type of vehicle you are going to supervise the learner in and the vehicle must display ‘L’ plates: www.gov.uk/drivinglessons-who-can-teachyou
you are the responsible person and as such you are deemed to be in control of the car when you are supervising a learner driver, therefore the same road traffic laws apply to you as to the driver, eg. not supervising a learner driver whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs or using a hand held mobile phone.
It’s also your duty as the responsible person to ensure the vehicle is in a safe and roadworthy condition. A very valuable exercise is to show the learner how to carry out checks to ensure the vehicle is safe to use on the road – you can get a copy of the driving test ‘show me tell me’ questions here: www. gov.uk/government/ publications/car-show-metell-me-vehicle-safetyquestions.
We recommend fitting an additional mirror to use as a rear view mirror from the passenger seat: a suction mirror often used to view children in the back is suitable, widely available and not an expensive purchase.
Talk to the learner’s driving instructor regularly, working out a practice plan can save valuable time and money. Planning your route and what you are going to cover is worthwhile as driving around aimlessly won’t be the best use of your time or experience. Taking a learner somewhere too advanced could also do more harm than good.
Most importantly keep calm. Yes it’s easy to say, but keeping calm really will pay off and save any heated arguments with the learner behind the wheel.
Keep your instructions precise and in good time – a learner needs to have time to process the information and then plan what to do, saying ‘carefully’ or ‘slowly’ when you mean to say ‘use the brake pedal’ can cause confusion, words are interpreted differently, not always with the same level of understanding. A useful guide to sitting with a novice can be found here: www.roadsafetyscotland. org.uk.
Setting a good example and explaining what you are doing when driving can be really helpful – it gives the learner an insight into what you are observing, anticipating and planning and gives them time to ask questions without being in the driving seat.
Last but not least, remember things might have changed since you learnt to drive so when the learner says: “but my driving instructor says I should do it like this.” Listen and think about it, you can always check with the instructor later – you might even learn something new.
Richard said: “Research proves that a combination of professional lessons and extra practice builds experience and can give a new driver a firm foundation for a safe driving career.
“Driving is a life skill so approach it properly with a good plan and a clear idea of how your miles together fit in with the approved syllabus.”
Private practice is important to give learner drivers vital experience